Hungarian word?

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Viridzen
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Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 16:12

I came across this Hungarian word in books on the Internet. It is "tót" and it is apparently a pejorative term, which referred to Slovak people. Can someone tell me about this word, its origins, and suchlike? Thanks in advance. I am only asking the question, I'm not trying to offend anyone. Its context was in a proverb (if it should have that title), and it made me curious.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 17:03

Viridzen wrote:I came across this Hungarian word in books on the Internet. It is "tót" and it is apparently a pejorative term, which referred to Slovak people. Can someone tell me about this word, its origins, and suchlike? Thanks in advance. I am only asking the question, I'm not trying to offend anyone. Its context was in a proverb (if it should have that title), and it made me curious.

Originally it was just the way we named the people who spoke Slovak.

Nowayays we call them Szlovák.

The word tót still means Slovak in some circumstances,
but with time it also got a new nuance.

Now if you call someone tót
that means that that person does not understand what you're saying.

For example if the math teacher is explaining you something and you simply don't get it
then he might ask you: Are you tót?
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 17:07

Okay. So, it evolved from a simple ethnonym to a term for someone who doesn't understand, or stupid of some kind? That's strange... Any clues on the etymology? There should be a place where the word came from.

EDIT: Okay, I found it on sk.wikipedia (I had to use Google Translate, and I could basically understand what it said): https://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%B3t
It apparently started out as an ethnonym from Gepid "thuat", cognate to "Deutsch" or "Teuton", meaning people or tribe. (Also look here: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/t%C3%B3t ) Then, it became a pejorative term; the Hungarian article is longer, so it probably has more information: https://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%B3tok perhaps you could read that and give more information? (I don't know why I didn't think to go to Wiktionary with this first...)
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 17:38

It mainly says what you wrote, plus other minor things.

Hungarians called not just Slovaks but Slovenes and also Croatians this way.
But at the end the meaning slowly got to mean Slovak.

There are Hungarian settlement names which contain this word,
probably because they once had Slovaks or Slovenes or other Slavs living in it.

Another possible etymology is the German der Tot which meant the Dead(head)
and it got to mean Slovak/Slav because of some facial features.
Not very probable though.

Slowly it became more of a slang term for a person who doesn't understand or who's stupid.

Many people here where I live don't even know that it refers to Slovaks.
For example my mom would describe the word
as simply someone who doesn't understand something.

I saw some English movies
where if someone didn't understand something they told him: Are you Chinese?
I guess this is also how the meaning of tót changed.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 17:48

The Wikipedia articles did mention place names, but I didn't feel it was so important.

I'm going with the Gepid etymology. The thought of them being thought of as dead people for their appearance just shocks me...well, so do most things about death. But, at the time when the term came around (3rd century, apparently), did the Germans use the word "Tot" for death? It may have looked different.

As for the Chinese thing, it's probably just because they are a different people, and they are sometimes stereotyped in America as not being good at English... so, maybe that's how it showed up, too.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 17:55

Viridzen wrote:As for the Chinese thing, it's probably just because they are a different people, and they are sometimes stereotyped in America as not being good at English... so, maybe that's how it showed up, too.

Yes, it's the same.

Chinese weren't really good at speaking English
so the label Chinese sometimes means "Person who doesn't understand".

And since Slovaks didn't speak or understand Hungarian
the label "Slovak" also got to mean "Person who doesn't understand".
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 18:00

I don't think "Chinese" has much more of a meaning of "not understanding" than "Greek" in "It's all Greek to me", it's just that people will say that, implying that someone must be foreign, if they don't understand. But, it's not really synonymous.

Do Slovaks tend to be offended by the phrase? I know Chinese would have problems with the "are you Chinese", but it might be different, since many Hungarians don't know that it means Slovak.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 18:30

I was just giving an example with the Chinese one.

Sometimes English people use the word Chinese or Greek for that purpose
and most probably many many centuries ago it was the same situation with Tót.

There are not many Slovaks who speak Hungarian
so I doubt they hear the word many times. :D

I don't find the word very offensive, since it kind of lost its original meaning.

But then I don't know about the Hungarians living in Slovakia, how would they use the word.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 18:45

I think Slovaks in Hungary would know Hungarian, and therefore know the word. I have a pen-friend from Slovakia whose mother is Hungarian. Perhaps I can find out from him, but we don't talk much anymore. School, suchlike. So, it may take a while.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Weerwolf » 2014-01-03, 21:43

Viridzen wrote:[...]but it might be different, since many Hungarians don't know that it means Slovak.

Actually, Hungarians know that it means Slovak as it is the first definition that comes to our mind. I think we use this word differently than people in Transylvania. The second meaning ’dumb’ – from my point of view – is more frequent in dialects than in the standard language. I could say, let’s say, 30 words as synonyms for ’being dumb’ or ’cannot grasp things’ before coming to ’tót’ meaning the same thing. So ’tót’ in Hungary is widespreadly used as a mocking name for Slovaks in the first place. ’Tirpák’ (people of Slovak background living round Nyíregyháza) is the word we use for dumb, bad-mannered persons.
In the past it wasn’t only used for Slovaks (and it wasn't rude either), but for some other folks just like Levente pointed it out. Over the years, however, the meaning became unfortunately mocking name for a Slovak person, but as far as my usage of this word is concerned, it needs a rude adjective to make it sound pejorative. So, in my eyes, this word among other things can be used as a humourous reference to Slovak people mainly in jokes or some idioms.
After the Second World War, the neutral meaning of ’tót’ lived forth in the word ’szlovák’ which is used from that time in official documents.
The Hungarian Wikipedia states that members of the Slovak minority in Hungary in general refer to themselves as ’tót’. One should ask them what they think about it. Slovaks in Slovakia were asked on this issue and 63,7 % of them had absolutely no idea what the meaning of ’tót’ wa, 19,6 % associated it as a neutral synonym for Slovaks, 4% said it was a rude word for a dumb person, and 3,8 % thought of it as a derigatory term for Slovaks. This survey was carried out by the Hungarian Institute of Bratislava (Pozsonyi Magyar Intézet) and the Bratislava-based Focus public opinion research agency.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 22:00

Thanks.

By the way, I asked my parents and they didn't know that it referred to Slovaks. :lol:
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-03, 22:03

So I guess this would answer my questions. I have yet to ask my pen-friend, so I'll still do that eventually, but it seems only some of them think of it as a pejorative term for Slovaks.
4% said it was a rude word for a dumb person

It reminds me of Romanies using "Gypsy" or "Tsigane" as a name for themselves. They don't know, most likely, the history of that word.
So ’tót’ in Hungary is widespreadly used as a mocking name for Slovaks in the first place. ’Tirpák’ (people of Slovak background living round Nyíregyháza) is the word we use for dumb, bad-mannered persons.

Wow, why do (these) Hungarians hate Slovaks so much? It's kind of making me angry; from a book I saw, I found the slogan "Tot nem ember", "A Slovak is not a person": http://books.google.com/books?id=e3PGLu ... er&f=false and there were many more. It's almost sickening; I'm not going to hate Hungarians, just as if it were the other way around, I wouldn't hate Slovaks. It's just these sentiments.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Levike » 2014-01-03, 22:10

Hungarians don't hate Slovaks, nor Romanians, and vice-versa.

The existence of pejorative terms for other nations is quite common.

The fact that they exist does not imply deep hatred.

Also in the XX century because of nationalism and wars
the situation was that everyone nation around here hated every other nation.
So it's not a surprise that these terms exist.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Weerwolf » 2014-01-04, 0:16

Viridzen wrote:Wow, why do (these) Hungarians hate Slovaks so much? It's kind of making me angry; from a book I saw, I found the slogan "Tot nem ember", "A Slovak is not a person": http://books.google.com/books?id=e3PGLu ... er&f=false and there were many more. It's almost sickening; I'm not going to hate Hungarians, just as if it were the other way around, I wouldn't hate Slovaks. It's just these sentiments.

I wholeheartedly agree with Levente. Among the majority of Hungarians there is no hostility towards Slovaks, though some politicians in both are eager to create this enemy climate in order to win some votes from people who are game for this ideology.
Our relationship is quite difficult, but we can get along well. Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone, just like every neighbor we quarrel a lot, we compete against each other whose grass is the greener and of course we both made mistakes in the past.
I, personally, never heard of this ’tót nem ember’ saying, well it does sound rude, but it is barely used nowadays, I can tell.

I did a quick search on the possible background of this and found a story of a Slovak ’ablakos tót’ (=’window Slovak’, traveling repairman who mended/made windows) taking place in the years of Rákóczi’s War of Independence, travelling between the frontlines of both battling sides, because he wanted to work to be able to buy food. Not far away from Bratislava he bumps into a military cordon this area is guarded by the ’labanc’ (Habsburgs), the ’tót’ has no idea about this, assumes they are ’kuruc’ (Hungarian), because at that time the labanc were beaten by the kuruc. So when the soldiers ask him which side he belongs, he answers quite happily ’kuruc’. No wonder that the angry soldiers beat the pants off the poor tót. He swears not to utter this word again and goes on with his travel. And yet again he meets a group of soldiers that want to know on which side he is. His ’kuruc-ness’ was already whipped out of his head, so it is obvious what his answer is going to be. Not the right answer and he got the daylight beaten out of him. Keeping on with his journey, another group of soldiers with the very simple question: Are you labanc or kuruc? The tót is scared to death, after all he was an honest, traveling tradesman, so he couldn’t understand all the brutality against his humble personality. His previous answer were all wrong, so this time he replied: I’m neither labanc nor kuruc, moreover I’m not even a man/human being, I’m just a ’tót’ (Slovak).
The link for the story (in Hungarian): http://www.nepmese.hu/mesetar/Mes%C3%A9 ... 3F/details
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Viridzen » 2014-01-04, 1:25

I said that I wouldn't hate anyone here for their ethnicity, and what I meant was that I didn't see why the Hungarians who used those terms pejoratively hated everyone so much. I know that it's not as bad as it is now; at least, I hope not. I'm glad that the "Slovaks aren't human" sentiment is basically extinct.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Weerwolf » 2014-01-04, 11:49

Viridzen wrote:I said that I wouldn't hate anyone here for their ethnicity, and what I meant was that I didn't see why the Hungarians who used those terms pejoratively hated everyone so much. I know that it's not as bad as it is now; at least, I hope not. I'm glad that the "Slovaks aren't human" sentiment is basically extinct.

Simply because we’ve been living next to each other since 10th century. Take it as a long lasting marrige, and yeah, some stereotypes have been born out of this relationship. All these sayings stam from the villages bordering Slovak-speaking villages, mocking with each other was a normal part of their lives, surely these statements were not hostile intended. Rather unfortunate and slightly pejorative usage can be seen in the development of these sayings. You can find them on the Slovak side too. By the way, neighboring countries usually have a very ’hot’ relationship, take a look at France-Germany, Poland-Germany, and Poland-Russia.

We, Hungarians are not obsessed with the Slovaks, there is no anti-Slovak propaganda in the media. It may be the other way around in Slovakia (-I won't go into generalization), because once I met Slovak students they were cool towards me when they came to know I’m from Hungary. Then I asked why they reacted so, and their answer was they thought that I might have some bad feelings towards them because that was what they were told by some media. In the end of the day, they were positively surprised that I didn’t feel hostile against them. You know, they have people like Ján Slota in the politics whose party has Hungarophobia on its agenda whilst there is no such party in Hungary that campaigns against the rights of the Slovak minority. Slota has been very vocal about his not-so-fine feeling, I should hatred against Hungarians. Crime and drinking not being foreign to this man, he proudly said he once assaulted and beat a Hungarian giving him a black eye. He also said ’Hungarians are a tumor in the body of the Slovak nation’ and he threatened once to flatten Budapest with Slovak tanks. To put it in a Slotanian way, such people like him are the cancer in the relations between the two country.
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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Thon » 2014-05-24, 4:18

It makes me wonder if the name Tóth comes from the same root.

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Re: Hungarian word?

Postby Weerwolf » 2014-05-24, 10:16

Thon wrote:It makes me wonder if the name Tóth comes from the same root.

Yes, it most likely does, meaning 'Slav' later 'Slovak'. Other theories suggest that some of people who have this surname could also traced back to the German 'Tod' (death) word.
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